Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas
An artfully arranged jumble of junked cars so famous that it has both a Bruce Springsteen and a casual dining restaurant chain named after it, Cadillac Ranch isn’t a ranch or a proper auto graveyard. In reality, it’s both a public art installation and one of America’s most iconic roadside attractions — a little bit kitschy and a whole lot legendary, it’s the kind of place that savvy travelers will have a vague notion of what you’re talking about when you mention its name, even if they've never been there.
Cadillac Ranch has been snaring unsuspecting motorists along old Route 66 since 1974 when members of experimental San Francisco art collective Ant Farm half-buried 10 junker Cadillacs nose-down in a vast, preternaturally dusty field just outside of the Texas Panhandle’s biggest burg, Amarillo. (The installation was relocated two miles to the west in 1997 due to encroaching sprawl from the city.)
Adding to the enigmatic nature of the work, it’s rumored that the graffiti-covered Caddys are positioned at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. And, yes, spray-painting the car-skeletons is totally kosher, encouraged even. As Roadside America notes: "Despite its exposed location in an empty field, Cadillac Ranch seems to give its art-anarchists a sense of privacy and anonymity, like a urinal stall in a men’s room. Individual painters take a stance facing one of the cars, then let it fly. The Europeans really seemed to enjoy attacking the cars during our visit, maybe because they've lacked a good graffiti canvas since the toppling of the Berlin Wall."
Cadillac Ranch was made possible by the late Stanley Marsh 3, an ultra-eccentric millionaire and Texas-sized prankster who wanted to bring rubberneck-inducing public art — the more off-kilter, the better — to the lonely prairie landscape that he called home. While Marsh’s later years were marked by sickness and scandal, his kooky legacy lives on with Cadillac Ranch.